Amnesty voices concern over Sri Lanka 'sniper' in Maldives prison

Amnesty International on Sunday expressed grave concern over the ill-treatment of a Sri Lankan national imprisoned accused in an alleged sniper plot to kill the Maldives president.

The 24-year-old Sri Lankan, Lahiru Madushanka, was arrested on October 24, 2015 on suspicion that he was a sniper hired to assassinate president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Amnesty in a statement, said the suspect continues to share a prison cell with six others, in a space designed for two people while he has not been provided access to much needed medical care.

In addition, as Lahiru has not been allowed outside his cell, he has started to lose his eyesight, the statement read.

"A Buddhist, he has not been allowed to practice his faith and has been coerced into following Islamic practices, including fasting for the month of Ramadan," Amnesty said.

In addition to Madhushanka, former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who is already serving 33 in prison over two separate counts of terrorism, two locals Fazeel Hameed and Ishaag Hussain have been charged in the case.

Adheeb, Fazeel and Madhushanka have been charged with conspiracy to murder while Ishaag has been charged as an accessory.

Prosecutors had said Adheeb and Fazeel had conspired to hire a sniper to assassinate president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Madhushanka had accepted the contract and flown into the Maldives to carry out the assassination, the charges said.

According to prosecutors Ishaag was the mediator who delivered the contract payment.

However, Madhushanka's family had denied the allegations insisting that her went to the Maldives seeking employment but did not get to meet the contact person there. After few days he has decided to return to Sri Lanka and the Maldivian authorities arrested him at the airport.

Though the trial has been underway, the last hearing was held in September 2016 as the trial has stalled.

Amnesty called on the Maldives government to release Lahiru unless there is sufficient credible and admissible evidence against him adding that he must be provided with frequent access to a lawyer, medical care and right to freedom of religion in accordance with local and international law.